Monday, January 11, 2010

voice lessons

When I was outside tonight feeding the animals I heard a sound so bone chilling it took each piece of my spine and stuck frozen Jell-o in the orifices. I was out by the car and stopped dead in the snow path. I was certain I was a dozen yards from some murder scene. The sound was something like a banshee wail mixed with the death rattle of a mako shark. (I speculate. Don't judge.) After the initial spookiness was past I realized that, once again, the scary sound in my backyard was coming from the chicken coop. Why can't any of my roosters be like normal chickens? Why do they all have to audition for Spinal Tap?

When Winthrop (my reigning rooster) started to crow I was shocked by the sound he made. He didn't crow, he moaned, and then graduated to an all-out werewolf howl. I could not believe that noise came from a chicken and not a dog. (He literally howls people. When Winthrop hollers the neighbor's dogs holler back.) Now John (the new rooster I raised since I bought him as a chick in July) has followed in his footsteps. John howls too, but the difference is his voice it totally normal. It's the same rooster crow you've heard a million times in movies and on the Waltons, but stretched like taffy at a long, shrill, pitch. All I can gather is this little boy grew up listening to the man of the house bay at the moon, so he must think that's the way to do it? I'm possibly horridly wrong but unless there are some audio-linguists of the domestic avian practice out there to correct me, I'm going with my nurture over nature thesis.

I like this. We all howl around here at Cold Antler.

Even me, sometimes.

36 Comments:

Blogger Laura said...

Too funny! I loved the "spinal tap" reference :) I have rooster who is not quite right too. Thanks for the laugh.

January 11, 2010 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

Maybe they were doing a duet?

January 11, 2010 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

OMG - I'd love to hear a recording of that!

January 11, 2010 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

when the sheep shearer was here he wanted to record Winthrop. He said he never heard a rooster like that before. From a 60+ year old shepherd, I call that a compliment (or anomaly)...

January 11, 2010 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

My neighbor's rooster should be there! One day when my daughter & I were running by their house, we heard him and my daughter thought it was a child screaming! I started laughing & said it was the rooster....

January 11, 2010 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Hunington said...

post their tunes!

January 11, 2010 at 10:45 PM  
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January 11, 2010 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Let's all howl like the roosters do! HOOOOOWWWWWWWLLLLLLLLL!
LOL Sounds like a song.

January 12, 2010 at 3:06 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Perhaps, you should name the next rooster Lon Chaney, Jr., after the original Wolf Man of 1941, in anticipation of HIS howl?

January 12, 2010 at 3:13 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Maybe you've got one of them there long-crowing roosters. Homegrown Evolution posted a clip of this guaranteed-to-annoy-the-neighbors phenomenon a while back:

http://www.homegrownevolution.com/2009/01/hey-wake-up-its-new-year-world-of-long.html

January 12, 2010 at 5:13 AM  
Blogger Affi'enia said...

I love the idea of were-roosters. Should keep most things at bay. We have a fox around my house and he howls like a child screaming. It was very disconcerting the first time I heard him.

January 12, 2010 at 6:34 AM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

I don't think I'm am going to get roosters! Wailing and all!
I'm a new fan Jenna! Just read your book, new to Ohio, on 3.5 acres, ready to buy chickens soon, and starting the Organic Master Gardeners program this week. Dreams, big ones!

Love your book, your style of writing. Your explaining (thank you!) and if it were a tad warmer in Idaho, I'd be bringing proper coffee & a new fiddle to have you teach me.

I'm sure we'd be fast friends! Have a brilliant week!
Shalom!

January 12, 2010 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger Mountain Man said...

You should record this somehow - it would be great to hear! I can include it in my COLD ANTLER theme song I am going to make for you :)

January 12, 2010 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger erislaughs said...

http://coilhouse.net/2010/01/btc-saturday-edition-death-metal-rooster/

not sure if you've seen this, but I thought of you immediately AND forgot to post it, until you posted this today! spooky!

January 12, 2010 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

funny...say, all this talk of roosters has me thinking about whether or not we want to get roosters when we find our place in the country. After all, we wouldn't need roosters to get eggs. Hmmm...Jenna, I'd love to hear your reasons for keeping roosters. Is it for built-in protection for the hens? For fun? 'Cause they're cool-lookin'? I don't know much about chickens yet, and we were going to just have hens, but now I'm wondering if we *should* get a couple roosters, too??
Thanks!!

January 12, 2010 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Hens are just happier with a man around. They relax, are watched over, protected and move like herds with a leader instead of all scattershot. Plus, they are beautiful and iconic in their sounds, and not many people can wake up to a rooster everyday. I love my boys.

January 12, 2010 at 9:21 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

OMG. It's the backdrop to your next recording!!!! You can start writing fiddle songs for each of your birds, introduced by the sound of the bird itself. It's great musical inspiration! Do.It.!

January 12, 2010 at 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Morgan Greenwood said...

Hey Jenna, this comment isn't entirely on subject but, while reading last night, I came across a brief passage that I thought would be meaningful to you, and probably some of your readers. You may have already read it. If not, enjoy:

"There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace. To avoid the first danger, one should plant a garden...to avoid the second, he should lay a split of good oak...and let it warm his shins while a February blizzard tosses the trees outside." - Aldo Leopold, A San County Almanac. 1948.

January 12, 2010 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger caramela said...

Some time ago I spent six years living on a Greek island- one of the loveliest things was waking up to roosters in the morning- I miss that-(I live in Vancouver now)Your guys sound very odd and funny-I love visiting here- have ordered your book-
Annamaria

January 12, 2010 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Morgan - consider me inspired! Think I'll nip off to facebook and put that one in my favorite quotations!

January 12, 2010 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Joel -- are you serious!?

January 12, 2010 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

Hey Mountain Man - I really like your music!

January 12, 2010 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

i LOVE that the neighborhood dogs respond to him!

January 12, 2010 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Texan said...

I was just sure you were going to say it was a Owl!

When I was little, laying in bed one night I heard what I was just sure was a woman screaming, as in life or death screaming...

I woke my Granpa (grandparents raised me) anyway he said nope that is a owl ...its okay go back to sleep... reply "are you sure!" Yes its a owl go back to sleep...

Surely sounded like a woman screaming for her life to me...:O)

January 12, 2010 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger Snyder's Homestead said...

AAHHH Jenna,
I lost your home number and I need to call you because I have something that could help you get that cabin. Send me an email asap so I can call you!!!
Me

January 12, 2010 at 6:58 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

That is great that they both have unique habits. Who wants normal animals when the strange and unique ones are much more fun. I would love to hear a recording of them.

Pam

January 12, 2010 at 7:35 PM  
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January 13, 2010 at 1:50 AM  
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I inclination not agree on it. I assume warm-hearted post. Especially the designation attracted me to be familiar with the intact story.

January 13, 2010 at 5:12 AM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

Jenna, your story reminds me of a scary moment years ago when my husband and I owed a cabin in the North GA Mountains. We were both asleep in the middle of the night when I woke to the sound of a woman SCREAMING for her life. It scared me so badly that I thought John would have to peel me off the ceiling. I was just sure that some sicko had drug an unsuspecting woman into the woods behind our cabin and was doing unspeakable acts. I woke John in a panic, we heard the scream again, and he laughed, assuring me that it was only a screech owl. I love the gentle "hoo hoo" of owls calling to each other, but I hope I NEVER hear another screech owl!

January 13, 2010 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

shoot---y'all ever heard a panther scream? Now THAT will send you cowering to the bottom of the bed. We used to go hunting every weekend, as a friend had a hunting cabin and 100 acres here in N. Fla. My then husband & I used to take the twin bunks. One night I'd just gotten warm enough to get in my own bed and was halfway across the floor when a 'painter' screamed just outside the clearing. I sprang back into his bed and refused to leave for the rest of the night. Unearthly. *shiver*

January 13, 2010 at 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Mariana said...

I'm pretty sure some birds learn to sing by imitation. Psychologists/animal behaviourists have placed chicks of one species in nests of another species, and observed the chick learning the adopted parents' song (to the best of their ability!). Chicks of other species will sing their own species' song regardless of what their adopted parents sing. Chickens must belong to the first category?

January 13, 2010 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Snyder's Homestead said...

Eleanor,
That is so funny!! When we rented out in the woods, I had a hard time falling asleep to all the "new" sounds. Never did I hear that!!

January 13, 2010 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger alaskasara1 said...

When my roosters started crowing they sounded like dying goats, aweful sound. All day I kept running out to check on the goats sure that one of them was dying and they kept looking at me like I was crazy. Then I caught one of the roosters in the act, couldn't belive the sound was coming from a chicken.

January 14, 2010 at 12:01 AM  
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